About Us

Chef Valerie Hanson

Valerie Hanson

Valerie Hanson and guest.

Growing up on a family farm, Valerie Hanson learned bygone kitchen and farm skills as they were passed from mother to daughter for generations. She continues to learn additional heritage skills.

She was one of eight children growing up near the nearby Silver Lake sand dunes in western Michigan’s Oceana County. She and her husband, John, also have eight children. With her youngest child now in her 20s, she has continued these home arts for decades.

Often one of their six daughters or a friend assists as “scullery maids” during the exclusive private Art of Cookery “cooking vacations” experiences. Truly, a family endeavor, Valerie’s husband, John, may well put on an apron and be found helping also.  Ask him to sing his “scullery man” ditty.

She is licensed through:

Origins of Bygone Basics

Valerie & John

Valerie and John Hanson

After spending 41 years living in a very old fashioned family farm environment, Valerie suddenly was living in suburbia. She and John Hanson met, and then married, at the local Book Nook and Java Shop. They created Bygone Basics, as it was originally named, together. It was born in suburban Whitehall, Michigan. The Hansons love taking cooking vacations while they travel to get a true feel for the “flavor” of an area. The idea for it began when they engaged a Mexican woman in Cozumel, MX to demonstrate her own generational culinary knowledge. Of that, and the existing passion for their own mid-west US heritage, Bygone Basics was created in 2009.

Valerie, with degrees in business and accounting, has successfully run businesses as the executive; and, John, with a technical position at a local company, and many years of re-modeling experience; knew they could create this very unique niche company that began as a way to teach local families the value of traditional cost saving and health beneficial home arts (canning, baking, gardening, and integrating small farm animals into a life-style) and has become a tourist destination for culinary tourism. Guests arrive from all over the U.S.A (and 22 other countries…and counting) for an immersion experience in heritage mid-Western culinary and lifestyle traditions.

The experiential business soon outgrew the suburban Whitehall residence and the Hansons searched for a suitable home for their culinary arts business that embraced historical traditions. The perfect place was found. The Hansons and Bygone Basics moved to Montague where they had a few acres and a big historic home. It needed a lot of work, but they succeeded in transforming the big house.

For seven years the cooking school was in the big kitchen of a bustling Bed & Breakfast.  In early 2019, the Hansons bought a bungalow style house in downtown Whitehall.  It’s floor plan allowed for an even bigger teaching kitchen.  Possession of the house occurred in March 2019 and kitchen renovations have begun.  The cooking school, renamed Art of Cookery will begin holding classes there in May 2019.  Until then classes will continue in the 1872 manse in Montague….along with Amanda’s Bequest Bed & Breakfast.

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